Submitting a supplementary reply in a contempt of court case at Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan expressed his “deep regret” over his “unintentional utterances” at a rally.
In August, the IHC had a show-cause notice to the former premier over a contempt of court case after his remarks against Additional Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry and asked him to appear personally before the bench on August 31.
The notice followed Imran’s speech at a rally in Islamabad’s F-9 Park in which he alleged that the additional sessions judge knew that incarcerated party leader Shahbaz Gill was tortured but she did not release him on bail. Imran had threatened to take action against the judge and the Islamabad police chief.
During court proceedings on August 31, the court had expressed
with the former prime minister’s and ordered him to submit a second reply in seven days.
In the supplementary response today (Wednesday), Imran Khan stated that at the rally “which was taken out in response to shocking news of physical torture of Mr Shahbaz Gill” the remarks were “unintentional and not meant to be directed towards the lady judge for whom he has a lot of respect”.
Imran said he “never meant to hurt her feelings and if her feelings have been hurt, it is deeply regretted” and added that he “neither meant to threaten the lady judge nor could he think of doing so”.
The statement read that Imran “has respect for the judiciary including the Subordinate judiciary and he […] believes that judges of the Subordinate/District judiciary are performing vital functions for dispensation of justice”.
He also added that he had “enormous respect” for the judiciary, “stands firmly for the rights of women in Pakistan” and “strongly supports the idea of greater induction and representation of lady judges”.
“The Respondent [Imran] also assures this Hon’ble Court that he would not shy away from expressing his remorse to her,” read the statement.
However, Imran also took the opportunity to state that he believed the IHC’s decision to allow him a second opportunity to respond “unfortunately, in order to gain political advantage, it [the decision] has been bitterly criticised out of all proportions by those who see an opportunity for political point scoring and to oust the Respondent [Imran] from the political arena”.
Reports of Gill’s torture
Imran Khan, in the supplementary statement, claimed that “the alleged news of torture was widely reported in social, print and electronic media which were very disturbing”.
“The Respondent had very busy schedule because of which he could not be informed about the pending proceedings before this Hon’ble Court,” Imran’s statement read, adding that now he “has been briefed about the technical rule of ‘subjudice matter’ and its effect on freedom of speech”.
Imran also said that the public address had followed “horrific news of physical torture” of Shahbaz Gill – another PTI leader, and that “the circulation of secretly made videos seriously prejudiced the process of grant of remand”.
Simultaneously, he claimed that “the unintentional remarks about the Police officials and the lady judge in no way affected the right to a fair trial of the accused Shahbaz Gill because, in the first instance the matter was still at the investigation stage and no trial had begun so far”.
Comparisons with others ‘invalid’
The statement submitted to the IHC by the PTI chief also argued that the precedents of Talal Chaudhry, Danyal Aziz and Firdous Ashiq Awan were “not applicable” because they did not “unintentionally utter few words” like Imran claimed he did.
“Those speeches/interviews were part of [a] malicious, calculated and well-rehearsed campaign on the advice of party leadership who had launched a massive attack on the Supreme Court by scandalising the judges and the Courts and was directed towards the entire institution of judiciary as a reaction/revenge to Panama case. They included vicious personal attacks on the judges,” the statement added.
“In those cases, there were repeated speeches made targeting the Judiciary and Hon’ble Judges and neither any remorse or regret was shown nor was any explanation given by the persons concerned,” said Imran arguing that his “reference to the lady judge and other officers during his speech was spontaneous and in the spur of the moment and was not calculated to personally attack any judicial officer or the judiciary in any manner whatsoever”.
“They were praised by the leadership of their party for their ‘heroic’ sacrifices and now they are the faces of the party,” the statement furthered, “they continue to attack the judicial institutions and only [a] few days back some more allegations have been made by them”.
Imran also said that “the contempt law is not to punish anyone but to uphold the majesty of law” and that he “believes in the rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution” as he “beseeched” the court to “follow the Islamic principles of forgiveness and restraint”.
The IHC will resume the hearing of the case on Thursday (tomorrow). It is also that the former prime minister will take the rostrum himself to explain his position.